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Sunday, April 02, 2006

Eddie Mathews

Eligible in 1974.

John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 02, 2006 at 11:35 PM | 27 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 02, 2006 at 11:51 PM (#1931094)
My pick for the greatest underrated 20th century player who was the best at his position all-time at one time.

Got that? ;-)
   2. karlmagnus Posted: April 03, 2006 at 01:43 AM (#1931594)
Josh Gibson?
   3. Ardo Posted: April 03, 2006 at 01:59 AM (#1931634)
Let's not forget Mathews's token contribution to one of Detroit's greatest teams, the 1968 World Champion Tigers.
   4. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 03, 2006 at 02:17 AM (#1931686)
Josh Gibson?

Gibson's domination of his position has been certainly underrated, but I don't think too many people would argue then or now that he doesn't belong in the discussion of greatest backstops. But was anybody stating that Mathews was the greatest thrird baseman when he retired? I mean, Mathews had to wait five elections before he was honored by the HOF, while rooks Robinson sailed in his first year of eligibility in '83. That's just a joke.
   5. DavidFoss Posted: April 03, 2006 at 02:17 AM (#1931688)
Eddie is the only player to play for the Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves.
   6. DavidFoss Posted: April 03, 2006 at 02:29 AM (#1931719)
Let's not forget Mathews's token contribution to one of Detroit's greatest teams, the 1968 World Champion Tigers.

In the following Tiger game:

Boxscore

I saw the following: "LOLICH RAN FOR MATHEWS".

I know he must of been hurt or something (went on the DL for 3 months after that), but that's not a flattering depiction. I'd like to remember the glory days from the Braves. :)
   7. DavidFoss Posted: April 03, 2006 at 02:49 AM (#1931744)
Eddie is *still* the "thru-age" HR leader for ages 23 (with Ott) and 24.
   8. sunnyday2 Posted: April 03, 2006 at 10:36 AM (#1932425)
Is it totally far-fetched to say he might still be the best 3B of all-time? I mean, I know there's this guy named Schmidt, not to mention Baker, but this was a great player.
   9. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 03, 2006 at 12:15 PM (#1932447)
Is it totally far-fetched to say he might still be the best 3B of all-time? I mean, I know there's this guy named Schmidt, not to mention Baker, but this was a great player.

I think Schmidt's combination of career length, offense, and defense is considerably superior to Mathews and Baker, which is not not a criticism of the latter two, but a testament to how great Schmitty was.
   10. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 03, 2006 at 06:01 PM (#1933109)
I'm actually toying with the idea of placing Mathews above Mantle. Both dominated their respective positions at around the same levels, while Mathews played the more physically demanding position. IOW, I don't think it's a slam dunk for Mantle for the #1 spot. But I haven't gone over the numbers yet, so I might change my mind.
   11. ronw Posted: April 03, 2006 at 06:59 PM (#1933614)
I predict John changes his mind. This seems like Part II of Ruth-Hornsby. Yes, Hornsby was an all-time great for his position, and was a top-10 hitter in his own right, but when the final votes were tallied up, the Babe had all the first-place votes, and Hornsby all the second-place votes.

Mathews wasn't good enough with the glove to outweigh Mantle's substantial hitting advantage. Plus, Mantle wasn't too shabby with the glove just one position over on the defensive spectrum of the '50s-'60's.
   12. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 03, 2006 at 07:14 PM (#1933738)
I predict John changes his mind. This seems like Part II of Ruth-Hornsby.

Except, juggling peak/prime/career, Mathews is a lot closer to Hornsby than Mantle is to Ruth.

Again, the question is comparing the high-attrition position of third base to the lower-attrition position of center field.

BTW, I never, ever contemplated Ruth over Hornsby. In fact, did anyone here think about it?
   13. sunnyday2 Posted: April 03, 2006 at 08:26 PM (#1934510)
The question is whether Mathews is closer to Mantle than Hornsby is to Ruth.

As I see it, you could maybe make an argument that Mathews' peak is as good as Mays, but not Mantle.

OPS+

Mantle 173/223-213-210-198-89-81-77-66-66-60-52-50-45-43-x
Mathews 145/177-75-75-72-70-57-56-47-46-38-25-23-14-12-9
Mays 157/184-76-76-76-74-71-67-67-64-62-60-58-57-49-46-41-26-25-20

For 5 peak years Mays is better than mathews by an average of 3.5 points per year. Mantle is better by 32.5. For career Mays is of course better by 12 points plus 4 extra years, while Mantle is better by 28 points minus one silly little 109 season.

Two words: No. Way.
   14. DavidFoss Posted: April 03, 2006 at 08:27 PM (#1934525)
BTW, I never, ever contemplated Ruth over Hornsby. In fact, did anyone here think about it?

Not with Hornsby's last full season coming at age 23. Not with Ruth's pitching either. If you gave them comparable career lengths as position-players only, it would be tempting. That kind of bat as a middle infielder is truly remarkable.

I see where you are getting at with Eddie. His 'sharp decline' after 1965 is not as sharp when examining context. Due to his early start, his 10101 PA are more than Mantle or even Schmidt and quite impressive for a 3B-man. (Brooks has him beat by 1600 PA, but that easily beats guys like Boyer and Santo). A career voter who gives sizable positional bonuses could conceivably make this case. I'm not saying they should, but there are far greater disparities among our electorate than this would be. (The peak voter in me can't look past those 9 AL-WinShares-MVPs).
   15. DavidFoss Posted: April 03, 2006 at 08:31 PM (#1934545)
Two words: No. Way.

For Mathews to have any chance, you'd have to scale performance against average by position. When I get home, I'll try and see if I can find positional averages for this time period.

(Of course, we could use this time to examine those pesky backlog issues we've been talking about the past few years, but at the moment, this one is too fun)
   16. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 03, 2006 at 08:34 PM (#1934570)
A career voter who gives sizable positional bonuses could conceivably make this case. I'm not saying they should, but there are far greater disparities among our electorate than this would be.

That's all I'm saying, David.

(The peak voter in me can't look past those 9 AL-WinShares-MVPs).

That's why I haven't said I definitely will place Mathews at the top. :-) Peak and prime guys will justifiably have Mathews over Mantle.
   17. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: April 03, 2006 at 09:04 PM (#1934807)
Peak and prime guys will justifiably have Mathews over Mantle.

Or gals as the case may be.
   18. Daryn Posted: April 03, 2006 at 09:16 PM (#1934882)
Peak and prime guys will justifiably have Mathews over Mantle.

Or the other way around, as the case may be.
   19. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 03, 2006 at 09:23 PM (#1934933)
Peak and prime guys will justifiably have Mathews over Mantle.

Or the other way around, as the case may be.


Yes, that's what I meant, Daryn. :-)
   20. AJMcCringleberry Posted: April 03, 2006 at 11:11 PM (#1935263)
For Mathews to have any chance, you'd have to scale performance against average by position. When I get home, I'll try and see if I can find positional averages for this time period.

Thanks to the sabermetric encyclopedia I have the positional averages.

I'm looking at their best 3 consecutive years for peak. In Mantle's case that's '56-'58, in Mathews' case that's '53-'55.

Mantle: .340/.472/.654
Position: .263/.345/.411.

Mathews: .294/.414/.611
Position: .263/.345/.426

Here are their career numbers

Mantle: .298/.421/.557
Position: .263/.342/.410

Mathews: .271/.376/.509
Position: .263/.335/.411
   21. DavidFoss Posted: April 04, 2006 at 03:37 AM (#1936067)
Thanks AJM.

PF during Mantle's peak are about 97 and in Mathews' peak are about 94.
   22. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 04, 2006 at 01:21 PM (#1936588)
AJM:

I probably asked this before, but does the Sinin encyclopedia take into account both leagues when creating their positional totals? I find it hard to believe that CF wasn't that much different than 3B during that time.
   23. AJMcCringleberry Posted: April 04, 2006 at 02:30 PM (#1936665)
It didn't say, but a quick test show that it doesn't. Mays' positional average from '56-'58 is .281/.347/.441.
   24. Paul Wendt Posted: April 05, 2006 at 04:39 PM (#1939343)
So the MLB average CF is about .272/.346/.426
If there is a big difference between positions, it is thanks to the American 3Bmen Al Rosen and co.
   25. DavidFoss Posted: April 10, 2006 at 04:15 PM (#1953124)
From John Murphy's ballot:

Best ML third baseman for 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, and 1963.

Looks like a HOM-er! :-)
   26. John (You Can Call Me Grandma) Murphy Posted: April 10, 2006 at 05:30 PM (#1953251)
Looks like a HOM-er! :-)

Yeah, I'm pretty sure he is. :-D

I could have posted it as 1954-1963, but it looks more impressive laying it out the way I did. :-)
   27. Dr. Chaleeko Posted: April 10, 2006 at 09:03 PM (#1953764)
Best ML third baseman for 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, and 1963

This statement has some importance moving forward in that it can help shed some light on a future candidate or two. Mathews was one of numerous men who can be fairly said to comprise a very, very strong peer group among 1960s 3Bs.

First, in the early 60s, there was Mathews and Ken Boyer. Then there was Dick Allen. Then Perez and Torre went to third later in the decade. That's a danged good group right there. Now here's the scary part, the lower-tier guys were pretty good too: Bob Bailey, Jim Ray Hart, Richie Hebner, and various bits of Deron Johnson, Maury Wills, Doug Rader, and Mike Shannon.

So when in about five or six elections I tell you that Santo was the best 3B in the NL n times (five or six IIRC), it's really a huge compliment to Santo because he faced fierce competetion at his own position year in and year out.

For fun, contrast that with Brooks and the nine zombies in the AL. Robinson stood out in bold relief because the quality of his 3B competition was poor until the very late 1960s. Santo and Allen (while he manned 3rd) had a much more difficult time standing out in their peer group. Which isn't to say that Brooks was poor, only that he was in a league where his talents had a more prominent showcase.

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